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How it will work

The following materials are covered by the scheme:

  • PET plastic bottles (like most fizzy drinks and water bottles)
  • Steel and aluminium cans
  • Glass bottles

All types of drinks in these containers and all containers of at least 50 ml (items such as whisky miniatures are 50ml) and up to 3 litres (such as a beer keg) in size are included.

Across Scotland, wherever people can buy a drink in a container made from one of these materials, from the islands to our major cities, then they will also be able to return it to reclaim the deposit.

Online retailers will also be included in the scheme, ensuring it’s accessible to people that are dependent on online delivery.

It will be just as easy to return a drinks container, as it is to buy one.

There will be two ways consumers can return their empty containers – over the counter, or by using a reverse vending machine (RVM). An RVM is a machine that scans containers when they are returned and then refunds your deposit. There will a range of ways you can get your deposit back, for example cash at a till, a token or discount voucher or digitally. The returned containers are stored in the machine and are then collected for recycling.

Community organisations will also have the opportunity to get involved as collection points. The scheme has been designed to be as accessible as possible to people.

The scheme will capture 90% of containers which attract a deposit for recycling.

It's intended that the deposit return scheme will be run by an independent, privately-run, not-for-profit company.

The scheme will be paid for through three sources of funding: unredeemed deposits, revenue from the sale of materials and a producer fee.

Businesses that sell drinks to be opened and consumed on-site, such as pubs and restaurants, will not have to charge the deposit to the public and will only be required to return the containers they sell on their own premises.

Consumers get their deposit back when they return the empty bottle or can.

Hospitality infographics

Hospitality businesses, such as take away cafes or restaurants (which sell drinks to be consumed on the premises, act in the same way as any other retail point of sale in Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme

Scheme Design infographic 1

For hospitality businesses, where the consumer is buying the drink to consume on site, the business will be able to choose whether to charge the 20p deposit or not.

Scheme Design infographic 1

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